Do We Need Amazon as a Tax Collector?

( – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

There was a hearing on Thursday on Beacon Hill to debate / discuss whether internet retailers should be required to collected sales taxes on purchases by MA residents regardless of whether the internet retailer has a physical presence in MA or not.  Many arguments have been made to support this “Amazon Tax”, named after the wildly successful on-line retailer.  From the fairness to the brick and mortar mom and pop shops in MA who are being placed at an unfair disadvantage because of the sales tax that they must assess on purchases, but Amazon does not to the amount of revenue purported to be “lost” by not collecting sales taxes on these purchases there is no end to arguments for this type of tax.

Local media has been full of articles about this discussion and the benefits of such a tax http://www.metrowestdailynews….

To which I say – Why do we need a new law or set of regulations when we already have many in place that should be collecting the very revenue to which the folks on Beacon Hill point and would place local retailers on a similar footing as on-line retailers.  Yes, I am talking about the Use Tax that MA has that requires all purchases on which a sales tax was not paid but on which a sales tax would have been paid were the purchase made in MA to pay a Use Tax at the same rate as the sales tax.

As with so many issues to do with laws, its not about the need for new laws, its about the need to enforce the compliance with existing laws.

We are entering the home stretch for federal and state income taxes.  On the state income tax forms we file in MA there is a line to fill in for purchases subject to the use tax.  How many people actually fill in the form and pay the tax?  Not surprisingly, very few.  So rather than work to find ways to enhance compliance with the existing laws, MA is looking to place the burden on the on-line retailers to collect and remit the taxes for them.  

I say NO.  Make the state work at enforcing the existing rules.  Yes, seek ways to obtain information from Amazon and others on MA purchases to compare them to tax filings.  That’s fair, based on enforcing MA resident compliance with existing laws and does not require Amazon and others to become tax collectors.  

I also think it would benefit fiscal conservatives as those who are required to write a check at the end of the year because of sales tax would have a different view on the amount of taxes they pay much the same way I believe that stopping payroll tax withholding and requiring people to write checks quarterly or annually would bring a new appreciation for how much in taxes one is actually paying.

So let’s not create more laws because the state is too lazy to enforce the ones we already have.

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